The statistics around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are extraordinary. In a little over a year, more than 6.5 million students have enrolled in over 800 free classes produced by about 200 universities all around the world. Harvard and MIT have poured $30 million each into their edX collaboration. Private investors have made similar sized bets into Silicon Valley-based Coursera, a rival MOOC platform.
Technology messiahs foretell a world in which anyone anywhere anytime can access high quality higher education at no or low cost. Prophets of doom envisage a MOOC tsunami sweeping away the ivory tower. Skeptical hard heads counter by paraphrasing Mark Twain: talk of the demise of place-based universities is grossly exaggerated.